Film Review: “Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3”


  • Starring: Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper
  • Directed by James Gunn
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Running time: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Marvel Studios
To be blunt, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3” is not only by far the most brilliant film in the “Guardians” trilogy, but it is also one of the best films to be released within the Marvel franchise. A stellar piece of filmmaking by director James Gunn, “Guardians” contains a surprising amount of emotional depth mixed in with the terrific humor we have come to expect from the series. It also doesn’t disappoint with its entertaining action sequences and wonderful soundtrack.
Gunn’s endeavor included tying up multiple character story arcs while emphasizing those of Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper). As for the latter, “Guardians” starts off with taking us back to when Rocket was a baby raccoon and was forced to endure horrible scientific enhancements, something that was alluded to in the first “Guardians.” These were performed at the direction of the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji, “John Wick: Chapter 2”), a prototypical mad scientist who goes from simple instability to complete insanity as he attempts to create a perfect lifeform. (In many respects, he is far dastardlier than Thanos or any other villain our Marvel heroes have faced on the silver screen.)
The movie’s current timeline takes place a few years after the events of “Endgame” with Peter still desperately mourning the loss of Gamora (Zoe Saldana). It’s to the point where he will eventually drink himself to death if something doesn’t give soon. He is temporarily distracted when Rocket is gravely wounded by the almost childlike Adam Warlock (Will Poulter, “We’re the Millers”), a creation of the Sovereign who want justice because Rocket stole from them. The powerful High Evolutionary has other plans and forces the Sovereign leader, a creation of his, to retrieve Rocket so he can examine his brain.
With the help of the Ravagers and a reluctant, alternate version of Gamora, the Guardians, including Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff), go on a quest to save Rocket’s life and put an end to the High Evolutionary’s madness. During their adventures, they still manage to work as a dysfunctional team with Peter trying to come to terms with why the “new” Gamora won’t give him the time of day, not to mention coming to a reckoning with the past he left behind on Earth.
Plenty of heartstrings are pulled within Rocket’s gut-wrenching backstory and will certainly cause a few watery eyes in the theater. Credit to Cooper’s great voice work as he gives the pain Rocket goes through a tangible, almost haunting quality. Pratt delivers his best to-date performance as Peter/Star Lord undergoes true growth as a character. (This contrasts with Thor devolving into buffoonery and Peter Parker never growing at all.) Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention Iwuji who succeeds in not going over the top with his performance. His character’s cruelty and madness are disturbing to say the least, and Iwuji pulls it off fantastically, even when he is spitting as he screams and rants.
This last incarnation of the “Guardians” team we have become accustomed to succeeds beyond all expectations by delivering a story that is entertaining in every way possible. Whereas “Wakanda Forever” restored faith in Marvel films being great again, after a long period of meandering, “Guardians 3” reinforces that faith. (No offense against the last “Ant-Man” film but it was merely a cute popcorn flick that lacked gravitas in comparison.)
Overall, this movie is a thrill ride of emotions, adventure and some songs that will stick in your head for days to come.
“Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3” receives four-and-a-half stars out of five.
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